Assateague Coastal Trust Announces New Coastkeeper

Assateague Coastal Trust Announces New Coastkeeper
New Assateague Coastkeeper Gabrielle Ross will assume her responsibility on Oct. 4. Submitted Photo

BERLIN — The Board of Directors of Assateague Coastal Trust, the Waterkeeper Alliance program for the lower Eastern Shore, has announced current Assateague Coastkeeper Kathy Phillips will be passing her duties to Gabrielle Ross next week.

“After 15 years at the helm of the Assateague Coastkeeper patrol boat, ACT’s advocacy programs, and administration of this powerful and effective 50-year-old organization, I am pleased to see the ACT Board move the organization forward by splitting the formerly combined Coastkeeper/Executive Director staff position into two separate staff positions,” Phillips said. “This will allow the Assateague Coastkeeper more time to pursue policy, legislative, and compliance clean water initiatives within the coastal watershed.”

For her part, Ross expressed excitement about the position.

“I am thrilled to be joining Assateague Coastal Trust as the new Assateague Coastkeeper,” Ross said. “As a young girl I enjoyed exploring Delmarva with my family learning how to fish, clam and crab. I found an escape in the coastal waters of Delmarva, where the rich fertile soils, bountiful waters and seemingly endless landscapes fueled my passion in conservation and environmental stewardship.”

ACT Board President Jim Rapp said he is looking forward to the transition between Phillips and Ross.

“We know Kathy Phillips is transitioning to a welcomed full retirement in 2022, and ACT will miss her presence on the water and on the frontlines of environmental protection,” he said. “But we have full confidence in our new Coastkeeper, Gabby Ross. Gabby’s commitment to protecting and defending local waterways has been reflected through her career field work with the Maryland Park Service, Delaware Natural Resources, and her citizen advocacy in forming a grassroots citizen activist group named Concerned Citizens Against Industrial CAFOs (CCAIC). We are excited to welcome Gabby to the ACT Team knowing her education, her experiences in the field and in community organizing will make the transition from our current Coastkeeper, Kathy Phillips, to the newest, and third Assateague Coastkeeper, a smooth one.”

In 2020, Ross received the Waterkeepers Chesapeake Water Warrior Award for her efforts protecting Wicomico County’s Paleo Channel underground aquifer, introducing new zoning laws to protect citizens from expanding poultry operations and working with citizens and environmental partners to introduce the Community Healthy Act in the Maryland legislature.

When she is not working, she enjoys birding the coastal byways, gardening, painting coastal landscapes, and paddling with her dogs Maverick and Goose.

“I am looking forward to growing with ACT, protecting the coastal waterways so that they may flourish for future generations and inspiring others to get involved in their local communities to motivate change,” Ross said.